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Traders have been warned to prepare to make customs declarations on imports from the EU into Great Britain in the next few weeks, despite the government easing the original post-Brexit timetable for full customs and regulatory checks on goods entering GB.

This was the message from IOE&IT Academy director Kevin Shakespeare as he hosted an IOE&IT webinar entitled ‘Preserve and grow your business with the EU’ on 12 May, attended by 560 traders.

Government delay

To soften the impact of GB’s departure from the EU single market and customs union last year, in March this year the government announced a delay to introducing declarations and checks.

The decision to delay was in response to businesses making “a strong case that they need more time to prepare”, Cabinet minister Michael Gove told parliament in March.

Rolling deadline

At the webinar on 12 May, attendees were reminded that new import processes for EU to GB trade have already come into effect and that the making of supplementary declarations for imports is a legal requirement.

“There is a 175 day (almost six months) rolling deadline for supplementary declarations from the date your goods cross the border from the EU into GB,” Shakespeare said.

'Clock ticking'

This means that if a trader imported goods on 1 January 2021, they need to complete their supplementary declaration by 25 June 2021.

Shakespeare stressed that:
“Government easements doesn't mean traders can do nothing - you need to prepare for this new timetable. The clocks has started ticking.

‘Easements vary’

Shakespeare said the easements varied according to the type of declaration or licence. For instance, the government delayed SPS licensing requirements from April to October.

From 1 October, movement of Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP) and High-Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) require pre-notification to GB customs.

From that same date, Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP are required.

In a poll of webinar attendees, 42% said they weren’t prepared to make declarations when the easement periods end, with 17% agreeing they were “very prepared”.

Digital Trader Services launch

At the webinar, a new digital service automating the creation of customs declarations was unveiled for GB importers, provided by a partnership between the IOE&IT and Fujitsu UK.

Digital Trader Services (DTS) provides advice and expert guidance, backed by customer support available from Monday-Friday, 8.30am-5.30pm, enabling GB businesses to manage import procedures: supplementary declarations, entry (ENS) safety and security declarations and pre-lodged import declarations.

‘In plain English’

DTS is aimed at “the middle ground – for companies without the benefit of larger in-house customs departments, expertise and software,” Frank Dunsmuir, Fujitsu UK’s Head of International Trade and Customs, told webinar attendees.

DTS is designed to be “an easy-to-use digital platform written in plain English, not customs-speak,” Dunsmuir said.

The volume of customs declarations being made by GB companies is estimated to rise from 50 million a year before Brexit to as much as 400 million "as EU requirements mature", Dunsmuir said. 

"This is a market that needs to expand rapidly to fill that gap and there will be a gap," Dunsmuir added. "It's highly likely there will not be enough customs intermediaries to serve that market."

Further details

For further information about DTS, you can:

IOE&IT membership

There is a combined offer on IOE&IT membership and Digital Trader Services.

IOE&IT membership gives you a range of business support services to reduce risk through your supply chain, ensure compliance and gain a competitive advantage in international markets. These include:

  • Discounts on training and education
  • Technical helpdesk and consultancy offerings
  • Library of exclusive guides and webinars
  • Networking opportunities
  • For more information please visit: